Benefit cut will hit poor

AN MP claims a Government overhaul of council tax benefit will hit the poorest hardest.

Labour MP Grahame Morris, who represents Easington, has criticised plans to localise the benefit, which would see different rates paid in different parts of the country from next year.

In the House of Commons yesterday Mr Morris said: “The Secretary of State has told councillors that they have a “moral duty” to freeze council tax this year, but at the same time he plans a cut of £500m, or 10 per cent, to council tax benefit for the poorest, so that the only people to face rising council tax bills next year in constituencies such as mine will be the most deprived and the working poor.”

But the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Andrew Stunell, hit back saying: “The changes in level are necessary to tackle the deficit; they are part of the Government’s deficit reduction programme.”

“I would remind him that the bill for council tax benefit has gone from £2bn a year in 1997, to £4bn a year.”

It comes after the Mail revealed Hartlepool Borough Council will have £1.1m less benefit to hand out, equating to 28 per cent of eligible residents having up to a fifth of their benefit taken away.